Sunday, November 27, 2005

More on the situation in Central Sulawesi, Indonesia

CENTRAL SULAWESI (Eastern Indonesia):

The Christian community in Central Sulawesi (eastern Indonesia) has recently suffered a string of barbaric, murderous attacks. The Indonesian government has suggested that criminal gangs are trying to provoke a conflict from which they could profit. But most political analysts believe Islamic extremists linked to regional terror networks are behind the killings. Groups like Jemaah Islamiya, Darul Islam, Kompak and Laskar Jihad strongly desire making Poso, the regional capital, an Islamic stronghold enforcing Islamic laws and customs. They want Poso as a secure base from where they could strive to create an Islamic State in Central Sulawesi. These Islamic militants are believed to be trying to provoke religious conflict so they can openly rally mujahideen (Islamic holy warriors/jihadis) to a 'legitimate' jihad 'in defence of Islam'. Poso is awash with weapons, explosives and bored Islamic mujahideen left over from the 2001 Central Sulawesi jihad.

On 29 October at 6.30am, four cousins from the tightly-knit Christian community, Theresia Morangke (15), Alfita Poliwo (17), Yusriani Sambuwe (17), and Noviana Malewa (15), were attacked as they walked through cocoa fields to the Central Sulawesi Christian Church High School in Poso. Their six machete-wielding attackers wore black ski masks and were on motorbikes. Theresia, Alfita and Yusriani were killed and beheaded. Their heads were put in plastic bags with notes stating 'another 100 Christian teenagers would be killed'. Two heads were left near police stations whilst the third was left outside a recently built church. Noviana escaped and is in hospital with horrific machete wounds and trauma. On Tuesday evening 8 November, on the outskirts of Poso, masked men attacked two more girls, Ivon Maganti and Siti Nuraini, both 17 (one Christian, one Muslim). They were shot in the face and neck from point-blank range and are in hospital in a critical condition. On Friday 18 November three Christian girls, Yanti, Evi and Anca, were travelling on a motorbike in nearby Palu when they were shot at and attacked by black-masked machete-wielding militants also on motorbikes. Yanti (20) bled to death from the machete wound to her neck. Evi is in hospital with machete wounds to her arm. On Saturday 19 November, Pudji Laksono (45) and his wife Novlin Pallinggi (37) attended church in Palu. Returning home on their motorbike after the service, they were followed by hooded militants on a motorbike and shot at close range. Pudji, a University lecturer, is stable in hospital after having a bullet removed from his chest. However his wife, Novlin, is critical as the doctors were unable to remove the two bullets lodged in her chest.

Pastor Mastin, Poso, told Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN), 'Because of the three girls who were martyred [on 29 October], we are challenged, and our faith is put to a test like gold. But we become strong because of their example.' Markus Sambuwe, the father of Yusriani, one of those beheaded, told CBN, 'I am really angry, but the Holy Spirit touched my heart and changed me. I forgive [the attackers] just as Jesus has forgiven my sins.'


* those in hospital with bullet and machete wounds: Noviana, Ivon, Siti, Evi, Pudji and Novlin; may God heal their bodies, comfort their hearts and preserve their faith.

* the whole Christian community in Central Sulawesi, especially the families and friends of the dead and injured; may God give them comfort, courage, grace and peace, and draw them nearer to him and each other.

* Christian leaders in Central Sulawesi, particularly in Palu and Poso; may God grant them divine wisdom and strength as they shepherd the Lord's people through these dark days, so that their churches will be shining lights of hope, truth, grace and peace.

* God to bring justice and security to Eastern Indonesia, frustrating the ways of the wicked (Psalm 146:9) by exposing Islamic terror cells, mujahideen training camps, arms and explosives caches, and all evil plots against his Church.'The Lord looked and was displeased that there was no justice. He saw that there was no one, he was appalled that there was no one tointervene; so his own arm worked salvation for him and his own righteousness sustained him.' (Excerpts from Isaiah 59:15b-19)

* God to give President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono wisdom, strength, and a deep heart conviction regarding his God-given responsibility to provide justice and security for Indonesia's Christian minority. (Proverbs 21:1, 1 Timothy 2:1-4)

World Evangelical Alliance: Religious Liberty Prayer List

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